It takes bold thinking to reimagine a system that has largely remained the same since its conception, like education has. But for us to truly renovate education to make it compatible with today’s world, it is going to take something bold to make education the means through which every child can brighten their future. For too long, education has remained stuck in the industrial era which is no longer fit for purpose in a world where technological advances and psychological research has revealed that there are better ways that children can be learning and what we can do to support their development.
So here are three of our favourite school systems, that are already creating a contemporary education today:
Smart School Alliance – Connecting A Nation’s Schools To Create Equity
One of the biggest emerging gaps in our world isn’t just the historical gap between nations, but now we are facing astronomical gaps within our own countries as city-dwelling children receive more up-to-date education than their rural peers. Across the world, we are now more likely to have things in common (such as our views) with people in a city halfway round the world from us, than have things in common with people from our own nation but who live in the countryside.
It is no wonder then that we have fractured societies and polarizing sets of beliefs that split our nations in two. One of the ways we can help to heal this void, and to create equity of opportunity and learning across our lands, is through education.
In Taiwan, they have taken a country-wide approach to tackle this growing issue. Set up by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and executed by the Innovation Learning Center, Digital Education Institute and the Institute for Information Industry in Taiwan, Smart School Alliance connects the nation’s schools to allow for education to be a shared experience between Taiwanese cities’ children and their rural counterparts.
Smart School Alliance connects schools together to become part of one big online and offline school. Through using technology such as live webcasting, the aim is to let students study locally but learn globally, and to make sure every child is a part of our rapidly globalizing world and that no one falls behind. Smart School Alliance invites top teachers from metropolitan areas to instruct students of outlying islands online, in order to build up their abilities. The alliance also invites students worldwide to share their local cultures, helping students to understand both themselves and others better, and explore the world at both a local and global level.
Through this alliance, Taiwan has found a way to initiate international interaction whilst also improving cultural understanding, and encouraging positive exchanges between different regions. In a time where deep divides permeate nations across the world, we need to connect students to each other and to make sure every child receives the same contemporary, up-to-date education so no one falls behind.
Big Picture Learning – Personalized Education Made Possible
We are living in the era of distraction. Thanks to mobile phones meaning that the internet is always in our pockets, educators have never had to work harder to garner the attention of children. Couple this with outdated curriculums which are seemingly disconnected from the lives of children outside of school, it’s no wonder we’re seeing rises in student disengagement.
Big Picture Learning tackles this issue head on by making education more personal to each individual student. This is no easy task, large class sizes and overworked teachers makes personalization near impossible. Therefore, to make this overwhelming idea more manageable, Big Picture Learning breaks personalization down into easier chunks to make it a reality at their school.
Students are split into an ‘advisory’, groups of fifteen students who are assigned to one teacher (their advisor) who follows their journey over several years. They meet up with their advisor to discuss their goals and interests, so that the teacher can truly help to get them where they want to go. This includes helping them to acquire relevant internships and work experience, and completing individual projects that align with their interests.
By disrupting the homogenized approach to education, personalization helps every child to realize that education is for them and can help them to realize and achieve their dreams.
MUSE School – Sustainability and Personalization For A Very Contemporary Education
Similar to Big Picture Learning, MUSE School provides a more personalized approach to their California-based students by painting a fuller picture of each student through their Blueprints assessment model.
Assessment has become a simplistic model of reducing every child to a set of numbers or letters, to tell future employers and university admissions staff what that child is capable of. This is a reductory model that misses out the point that each of us has our own unique talents and attributes, some of which aren’t captured in traditional assessment methods.
The Blueprints, though taking into account traditional academics, also record each student’s goal-setting, self-reflection, passion-based learning and communication, amongst other character skills. Through recording their entire educational journey, students are able to more clearly reflect on their learning and to create a clear action plan of how to explore their own interests and passions whilst developing their academic and character skills. By having their personal attributes taken into account, assessment becomes more meaningful for students and helps them to know what avenues are open to them after school, as well as helping prospective employers and universities to know more about them too.
MUSE School is not only revolutionary in their approach to assessment, but they also tackle one of the biggest challenges that the next generation will have to contend with as they grow older, the threat of climate change.
This is put at the heart of the school, where the whole model is designed to teach children about sustainability. At the school children eat plant-based meals, attend class in rooms which are designed to make the most of natural light and are taught to be eco-literate. The school’s design features have been specially crafted to be as eco-friendly as possible, including solar-panelled flowers which offset the majority of the school’s power usage.
Through seeing their own school place such huge importance on this issue, children organically grow their own interest in sustainability and learn to live in an environmentally-friendly way. MUSE School co-organized our Spotlight on Sustainability where we selected ten of the most inspiring innovations in sustainability from around the world, and Blueprints was chosen as one of our 100 Inspiring Innovations in both 2018 and 2019!
Explore other leading education innovations from the HundrED 2019 collection here!